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Blue America: Things At Stake In The 2008 Election

Grace Lee Boggs interviewed by Bill Moyers, discussing how we are all the leaders we’ve been waiting for…

We do not have a lot of time. Our moment on this planet, as it turns ever so slowly on its axis toward the future, is only a tiny portion of the whole. And during that small amount of time, we have a limited window of opportunity to influence who we are — and who we ought to be.

We have such a window in the 2008 elections, and we must seize it with everything we have. The stakes are far too high to sit back and assume someone else will do the necessary work. Because they won’t — they won’t do it with as much care as you will about the issues that drive you the most. They won’t do it with the same level of enthusiam about the changes you desperately want to see. "Someone else" is not enough — what your nation needs is you. What your community needs is you.

You are the leader you have been waiting for. Isn’t it time we all led?

Tomorrow, we have a book salon on Supreme Conflict at 5 pm ET/2 pm PT — which delves into the shuttered world behind the curtains and robes of the Supreme Court of the United States. Much of the book deals with the interpersonal struggles and the personalities and political infighting that surrounds judicial appointments and the various high-profile cases that the Court hears over the course of years.

But one point has stuck out for me throughout the read: everyone brings their own perspective, and experience — and philosophy and goals — to the table when they discuss how the SCOTUS should function. It’s just that some people are more honest about that, and some folks try to hide behind carefully crafted Luntzian bargains. But, ultimately, as Supreme Conflicts readily exposes — no matter how the folks on the right protest they are against "activist judges" and "results-oriented jurisprudence," that is exactly what they want — so long as they are actively producing conservative results:

Change does not come easily in an institution that, once set on its course, moves with all the speed and agility of an oil tanker….

The Rehnquist Court had proven deeply disappointing to the Right. Justices billed as conservative proved not to be; justices who were solidly conservative shifted the court in unexpected ways. In both its reasoning and results, the Court failed to live up to conservative expectations and at times acted directly contrary to them….

…The Rehnquist Court didn’t hesitate to take on the most hotly debated public issues of the time — abortion, gay rights, affirmative action, the death penalty, presidential power, the separation of church and state. Sometimes the decisions were narrow. Sometimes the justices split the difference between two strongly argued extremes. But more often than not, on the most volatile issues, the Court did not take the conservative path….

But the Rehnquist Court didn’t dig up the foundation cemented by more left-leaning Courts and justices….The way conservatives saw it, his Court did little to impede the liberal agenda, and in many cases furthered it….

In this election cycle, who ultimately gets elected will decide a lot of things. One is how much repudiation the Bush Administration’s enormous power grabs will get from subsequent legislation from the new Congress. Another is the potential for new presidential directives rescinding the Cheney/Addington specials — or expanding them. All of which may be subject to legal challenge at some point, and if you think the folks at The Federalist Society are about to allow a roll-back of their unilateral executive theory without a protracted fight, you can think again.

Which takes us back to the need for all of us to lead.

It isn’t just the stakes for one election and one year — what happens in this election cycle will impact who we are and who we ought to be for generations, because lifetime appointments to the federal bench lead to potential lifetime appointments to SCOTUS. Ask Lily Ledbetter how the smallest changes can have an enormous impact in the court’s direction…and then ask yourself how much you want to gamble on a President McCain picking a moderate for more balance on the Court. Or on a GOP-led Congress not rubberstamping another conservative ideologue, whether the public wants it or not.

This is bigger than all of us. We have this one small window to reverse some of the enormous power grabs made by the Bush Administration under the guise of "terror," and to help to restore a Constitutional balance for generations to come. We must be the leaders we wish to see, because we cannot depend on someone else doing the desperately needed work to make it happen.

So pick a candidate that you can support in your area and help get them elected. Their voice — and yours — could make all the difference. Let’s get to work…

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com